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The Simple Phrase that Will Teach Kids to Help Others

When I see parenting articles advertising miracle cures like“The one phrase that will change everything” I am usually super skeptical. Unless of course that phrase is, “Here is 1 million dollars and a half gallon of ice cream.”

When my 4 kids are all screaming at once, there’s a puddle of pee on my floor, and my house looks like the aftermath of a tornado, no magical phrase is going to save me.

So it’s not without a distinct understanding of the difficulties of motherhood that I claim to have a phrase that will not only teach kids to be more helpful, but also change the mood of your home.

I know, because it’s what happened in our home.

It takes my kids just minutes to turn my house into post-bombing rubble. And the second I would try to get Eleanor and Edie (aged 6 and 5) to help out it would be as though I’d just asked them to saw off their own arms.

Or suddenly their bodies would cease to function. In an instant, they would go from happily playing to lying spread eagle on the floor whimpering and exclaiming that they were simply too tired to put away a toy or hang up a backpack.

Frustrated, I would jut clean it all myself, having taught my children only that enough theatrics will force mom to clean everything anyways.

But then I learned a simple phrase in our incredible Conscious Discipline parenting class (summarized in this AMAZING book). Now, my girls actively look for way to help each other and me.

It was a miracle, pure and simple. You want the magic?

Simple phrase to teach kids to help others

Here’s what you say depending on their actions:

You       (what they did )    , so    (how it helped/impact)   . That was so helpful!

This phrase points out what they did, how it’s been helpful, and it let’s them know that they have made a positive contribution to your home.

For example:

  • You gave your sister a hug after she got hurt so that she would feel better. That was so helpful!”
  • “You brought your dishes to the sink, so mama could wash it. That was so helpful!”
  • “You followed directions without complaining, so we finished quickly and everyone is happy. That was so helpful!”
  • “You put away your toys, so that no one trips on them. Plus, it’s made the room look so nice. That was so helpful!

Simple, right? But it is seriously a game-changer. Here’s why: 

Teach you kids to help out with this simple phrase.

How it helps your child:

  • Shows the child that you are noticing the good they do. It makes them feel good, which makes them want to get noticed more for helpful behavior.
  • Builds self-esteem. This points out the impact of their actions. So they can see the positive impact that they can have on the people and things around them. They see that they can make a big difference.

How it helps you:

  • It gets you noticing good behavior, instead of focusing on bad.

With all the stresses we have, often we find ourselves noticing our children’s poor behavior and completely missing the good that they do. After all, bad behavior is often more effective at getting our attention! You may not notice your children playing nicely together, but the minute conflict arises…

“Don’t bite your sister!”

“Stop hitting!”

“We do not use those words! Apologize right now!”

But pointing out poor behavior doesn’t usually result in children suddenly turning into angels. At least not in my experience.

When it comes to your child’s behavior, what you notice, you get more of.

Notice the bad, get more of it. Notice the good, and your child will work hard to get recognized for the good they are doing.

Think about how you’d react if your husband came home and the first words out of his mouth were critical about the state of the house? All while completely ignoring that you managed to keep everyone alive and put some dinner on the table (we all know this is sometimes a major feat).

Pointing out deficiencies while ignoring the positive doesn’t exactly inspire good feelings. On the other hand, we are encouraged when we hear what we are doing RIGHT.

Kids are the same way.

Keeping your eyes peeled for helpful behavior and then pointing it out to your child will result in your child looking for ways to be helpful.

While you will probably notice an immediate change, long-lasting results will come with consistently using the phrase. Which means consistently noticing good behavior and helping your child see the impact of their actions.

Give it a try

You can teach kids to help others by noticing when they are helpful. Try this phrase out and see what happens in your family. In noticing the good your children do, you will empower them.

You will inspire your kids to look for ways to be helpful, raise their self esteem and make them aware of how they contribute.

You’ve got this, mama!